The 'Lateran' Obelisk (32.18 m), which stands outside the Palazzo Laterano, was the last Egyptian obelisk to be brought to Rome, is the largest in the world. The obelisk was originally erected by the pharaoh Tuthmosis III (r. 1479-1425 BCE) outside the Temple of Amun in Karnak, where it stood for almost two thousand years. Towards the end of the reign of the emperor Constantine (r. 306-337) it was moved to the port of Alexandria, where it lay on the quay awaiting transport to the city of Constantinople, which the emperor had inaugurated as his new capital in May 330. However, the project was halted by the emperor’s death in 337. At some point before 357 Constantius II (r. 337-361) completed the task, using a specially built ship manned by 300 oarsmen. The obelisk’s destination, however, was now Rome, where it was erected on the spina of the Circus Maximus. In 547 it is thought to have been toppled by the Goths.
In 1587 the obelisk was unearthed, broken into three pieces, at a depth of 8 metres. In the following year it was re-erected by Domenico Fontana outside the Palazzo Laterano, on the orders of Pope Sixtus V (r. 1585-90).